Gareth Roberts Gareth Roberts

Just Stop Oil have finally met their match

Just Stop Oil (Credit: Getty images)

Have Just Stop Oil finally met their match? The splendidly named counter-organisation ‘Just Stop Pissing People Off’ have pulled off two bracing publicity coups in the last week.

First, in Elephant & Castle in south London last Wednesday JSPPO ‘kettled’ JSO activists who were planning one of their slow marches down the public highway, forming a human ring around them (for a whole thirty minutes). Then at the weekend, and rather more spectacularly, JSPPO infiltrated JSO and spoiled their lovely lunch at the Heritage Centre in Bow in east London, releasing balloons up to the very high vaulted roof of the building and then switching on the ear splitting panic alarms they had attached to them.

Direct action – rather than angry reaction – is very much a bourgeois thing

The video footage of both incidents is particularly amusing because of JSO having to pretend that what has happened is great, because protest and debate are vital, etc. During the kettling, one of them even says: ‘It’s really great that we’re having this conversation’, which as I pointed out here last week is always untrue. After the balloon video was released, JSO put out a statement which said ‘We thoroughly enjoyed (the) prank yesterday. Great action design – nonviolent and ever so slightly disruptive.’ This is the posh version of ‘is this face bothered?’

But there’s something worth noticing about both JSPPO and JSO, and what they have in common. JSPPO is the brainchild of a pair of ‘YouTube pranksters’ (heavy sigh) called Joshua Pieters and Archie Manners. These are two ever so nice, very well spoken and very well-scrubbed boys of the type your mum would like your sister to bring round for tea. She would even put out the special doilies on their plates.

So what was their motivation here? The very same spur that causes people to eat whole jars of nutmeg or to leap from second-storey windows: views.

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